The John M. Olin Center

Paper Abstract

298. Joni Hersch and Leslie S. Stratton, Household Specialization and the Male Marriage Wage Premium, 10/2000; subsequently published, Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Vol. 54(1), October 2000, 78-94.

Abstract: Empirical research has consistently shown that married men have substantially higher wages, on average, than otherwise similar unmarried men. One commonly cited hypothesis to explain this pattern is that marriage allows one spouse to specialize in market production and the other to specialize in home production, enabling the former - usually the husband - to acquire more market-specific human capital and, ultimately, earn higher wages. The authors test this hypothesis using panel data from the National Survey of Families and Households. The data reveal that married men spent virtually the same amount of time on home production as did single men, albeit on different types of housework. Estimates from a fixed effects wage equation indicate that the male marriage wage premium is not substantially affected by controls for home production activities. Household specialization, the authors conclude, does not appear to have been responsible for the marriage premium in this sample.

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